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The world is grappling with a pandemic at least in part due to Chinese authorities’ intolerance of bad news and criticism; the impulses to censor and silence cost critical time and information. I will try to catalog the COVID consequences for people inside China—from ordinary people in Wuhan to human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang to the extraordinary and disturbing developments in Hong Kong. We will also look at the fallout outside China: whether Chinese authorities’ propaganda efforts have been successful, whether there is greater global recognition of the implications of the lack of human rights inside the country, and what if anything constructive can come from newfound zeal for holding China accountable.
Sophie Richardson is the China director at Human Rights Watch. A graduate of the University of Virginia, the Hopkins-Nanjing Program, and Oberlin College, Dr. Richardson is the author of numerous articles on domestic Chinese political reform, democratization, and human rights in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Vietnam. She has testified before the European Parliament and the US Senate and House of Representatives. She has provided commentary to the BBC, CNN, the Far Eastern Economic Review, Foreign Policy, National Public Radio, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. Dr. Richardson is the author of China, Cambodia, and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence (Columbia University Press, Dec. 2009), an in-depth examination of China's foreign policy since 1954's Geneva Conference, including rare interviews with policy makers.